1997 Review of PARinAC and Partnership Document: status report
by Humanitarian Practice Network February 1997

Partnership in Action (PARinAC) is a joint UNHCR-NGO initiative to develop a more constructive and concrete partnership between UNHCR and NGOs.

In June 1994, following a year-long series of consultations and regional meetings around the world, involving UNHCR and NGO partners, more than 250 participants from over 100 countries met in Oslo to develop a Plan of Action. This plan represented a synthesis of the hundreds of proposals which had emerged from the regional meetings on the five agenda items of protection, internally displaced persons, emergency preparedness and response, the relief to development continuum, and NGO-UNHCR partnership.

Since the Oslo meeting, there have been a number of PARinAC initiatives, including regional meetings of NGO-UNHCR PARinAC focal points, development of the partnership programme management handbook and briefings on protection issues. These have served to demonstrate the inter-dependency of UNHCR and NGOs in all aspects of refugee work.

UNHCR, through a series of questionnaires to Country Representatives, NGO implementing partners and others, is now seeking to review all 134 recommendations in the Oslo Plan of Action, review the changes in HCR/NGO relationships that have resulted from PARinAC, assess its achievements, and consider future priorities and activities. Preliminary findings of the review process indicate that PARinAC appears to have become more a vehicle for small agencies or national agencies in poor countries, than for large international agencies, helping to raise the profile, awareness and standing of national NGOs where PARinAC has been actively followed up.

A substantive report will be prepared for the June meeting of the Standing Committee of UNHCR’s Executive Committee.

As a follow-up to PARinAC, UNHCR is considering producing a Partnership Document, which would be signed by all implementing partners.

The aim of the document would be to set out the pre-conditions for working with UNHCR, elaborate a code of conduct (based on the Red Cross/NGO Code), include reference to expected or desired performance standards, as well as guidelines on specific issues, for example, work with children and women, environment, health and others. Many of the issues to be included are covered by the various recommendations in the Oslo Plan of Action.

As soon as there is an agreed outline and strategy, UNHCR plan to share the concept with NGOs to ensure full discussion prior to any finalisation.